AWP was a good time. Some panels were infinitely more interesting than others, but, what are you going to do. And I had no idea restaurant service was so horrid downtown. There are conferences all the time; aren’t they used to crowds? And why does a bottle of domestic beer cost $5.75? For the love of god. That’s what a flask is for. I paid $6 and some odd cents for a bottle of 420 at the bar at the Hilton and the darn thing wasn’t even cold. Anyway, the panel Friday about research and the novel was interesting–the best thing was learning how each author on the panel conducted research in a different way. There is no right way, you just have to figure out how to serve your particular story. I’m going to start thinking more about protagonists’ professions/jobs, because that is a significant part of life. The Five Points reception Friday was good, but I didn’t make it to the John Barth reading because I opted to continue partying instead (ooops!). It was definitely the right choice. One of the biggest benefits of a writing program has been building relationships with like-minded writers; the value of those relationships cannot be underestimated. Saturday I attended a panel on how to start a reading series. I found all the work Marc Fitten (editor of Chattahoochee Review) and Megan Sexton (editor of Five Points) do organizing readings and events in Atlanta particularly interesting. It’s wonderful when organizations (lit mags, newspapers, NPR, food vendors, etc) can all get together for mutual publicity and to host fun literary events for the public. Daren Wang (founder of Verb and organizer of The Decatur Book Festival) was also on the panel. I also saw a panel about crossing over into YA, which was really ispiring and got me brainstorming new book ideas.
At the bookfair I renewed my subscription (I’d let it lapse!) to the Chattahoochee Review. I bought a second copy of Stray at the MacAdam/Cage table, because it was such a steal. I picked up two chapbooks at the Small Beer Press table. Horse Blow Up Dog City & Other Stories, by Richard Butner, is really good. I especially like “Ash City Stomp,” (recommended by Kelly Link!) which you can read or listen to here.
I met Kelly Link and managed to act like a mute idiot for a significant period of time before summoning the courage to tell her how awesome she is. Because she is truly awesome. Magic for Beginners is an amazing, original work. If you feel the joy has been sucked out of reading (are you in academia perhaps?) then get thee a copy of Magic for Beginners and curl up on a stormy night and dig in. I cannot get over “The Hortlak,” “The Faery Handbag,” or “Stone Animals.” You can read “The Faery Handbag” here.